PROVO The answers to America's problems aren't found in Washington; they're found in the people of America.
That's what radio and TV personality Glenn Beck told a vocal crowd of nearly 17,000 gathered at BYU's Marriott Center Sunday evening for America's Freedom Festival's annual Patriotic Service.
"In a time when America is begging for a leader; in a time when America is shouting out, 'Where is the leader, when will he step forward?' I am here to tell you: You are the leader the leader we seek. The leader we need is you; it always has been.
"We are the United States of America," he said. "We can solve any problem." Beck said the drafters of the Constitution put, "we the people," at the very top of the document in big, bold letters for a reason to remind the people of America just exactly who would shape the nation's destiny, even with all of its problems. Just as the signers of the Declaration of Independence, "in hot, humid, not-yet-riddled-with-gangs Philadelphia" pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor for the cause of freedom, so too should each American.
Beck said the signers of the Declaration of Independence, in "hot, humid, not-yet-riddled-with-gangs Philadelphia," put "we the people" at the very top of the document in big, bold letters for a reason to remind the people of America who would shape the nation's destiny, even with all of its problems.
"Hope is the recognition of who we truly are," Beck said. "Not in who we've allowed ourselves to become all we have to do is remember."
Beck repeatedly told the crowd it is vital for Americans to remember how important God is in America's past and future. He said the pilgrims humbly came to the American continent according to God's will. Like those pioneers, he said, America needs pioneers now.
"We are this country's next great dispensation's pioneers," he said. "We are the ones that are going to take us into a new place, beyond your wildest imagination. It will be hard, it will be rough, but, oh, how we will have this tale to tell."
Throughout the service, Beck repeatedly returned to the words of the LDS hymn "Come, Come Ye Saints." Struggling with words and speaking with visible emotion, Beck said that immediately following the events of Sept. 11, he was supposed to do a radio broadcast after visiting the area of ground zero in lower Manhattan. As he tried to tell the story that day, he said he was comforted by the the words from the hymn, which say, "All is well, all is well."
Even with all the talk of disasters and tough times Americans are facing, Beck said, he has a different message for the American people.
"It's not about the floods or the fires or the twisters in Kansas," he said. "It's not about the stock market being down, it's not about the gas, it's not about oil being up 700 percent it's none of those. It is that all is well that we will make it as long as we look at ourselves and ask ourselves, 'Who are we?"'
Beck said he was wearing a pin on his suit Sunday that had the letters WTC on it. He said a New York City police officer gave it to him. The pin's purpose is to say the wearer was working, or on duty on Sept. 11. He said he'd never worn it before, and will probably never wear it again, but decided to put it on for the service.
"I hadn't realized that I was on duty that day," he said. "You were on duty that day, and we're all on duty today."
The service got started with the Freedom Festival Concert Band playing each of the five anthems of the branches of the military. Members of the different branches stood when their anthem was played, and members of each branch were represented.
Freedom Festival National Advisory Board member Stephen R. Covey introduced Beck, calling him a "modern-day Paul" and a "true patriot."
"He is armed with quick wit, an informed opinion and a unique ability to inspire others to rise to their full potential with an open heart," Covey said.
Prior to Beck's remarks, those gathered listened to vocalist Michael Ballam, who sang "God Bless America" and "My County 'Tis of Thee," in addition to singing the national anthem.The Freedom Festival's speech contest winner, Kyler Ludwig of Mountain View High School, compared America to a city with a light on a hill, of biblical origin, while he spoke on the festival's celebration of family, freedom, God and country.